You’ve probably heard about Kegel exercises for women — but what about for men?
Some research suggests these pelvic floor-strengthening exercises may help restore bladder control after prostate surgery. For some men, they may also help treat erectile dysfunction and prevent premature ejaculation. They might even increase the intensity of your orgasms.
Learn more about these easy exercises and how to add them to your daily routine.
Kegel exercises are also called pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) exercises. They target the muscles of your pelvic floor, also known as your pubococcygeal (PC) muscles.
Both men and women have PC muscles. They provide support to your pelvic organs, including your urethra, bladder, and bowel. They help hold your organs in place, promoting good bladder control and sexual function.
When you’re young, your PC muscles are typically taut and strong. As you age, they can become weakened and stretched. They can also become too weak or loose as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, surgery for prostate cancer, bladder or bowel problems, or other factors.
This can negatively affect your bladder control and sex life. But just as you can strengthen your arm or leg muscles through regular workouts, you can strengthen your PC muscles with Kegel exercises.
Dr. Arnold Kegel originally created Kegel exercises in the late 1940s to help women regain control of their bladders after childbirth.
Since then, several studies have found Kegel exercises can help treat several conditions in women. For example, a research review in Actas Urológicas Españolas suggests they can help improve urinary continence in women. Another study in the World Journal of Urology suggests they can help treat not only stress urinary incontinence, but also pelvic organ prolapse and sexual dysfunction in women.
Less research has been done on Kegel exercises for men. But early findings have been promising.
For example, a research review in Urology suggests that Kegel exercises can help treat stress incontinence in men after prostate surgery. It may also help relieve overactive bladder and improve sexual function in some men.
Kegel exercises might have sexual benefits for both women and men. According to scientists in the International Urogynecology Journal, several studies have linked pelvic floor muscle training to better sexual function in women. Research reported in Sexual Medicine Reviews suggests they may also help treat sexual dysfunction in men. More specifically, they may help improve erectile function, ejaculation control, and orgasm intensity in men with chronic prostatitis or chronic pelvic pain syndrome.
Both men and women can perform Kegel exercises in basically the same way.
The first step is to find your PC muscles. You can identify these muscles while urinating. Simply stop urinating mid-stream. The muscles you use to hold your urine back are your PC muscles. They’re the same muscles you can use to avoid passing gas. If you’re male, your testicles will also rise when you contract them.
Once you’ve found your PC muscles, can practice flexing them. Contract and hold your PC muscles for 5 to 20 seconds. Then release them. You can repeat this simple exercise 10 to 20 times in a row, three to four times a day. Gradually build the number of contractions you complete and the amount of time you hold each contraction for.
Over time, this simple exercise can help strengthen your PC muscles. This might help improve your bladder control and sexual function.
You can also try variations on this basic exercise. For example, contract and release your PC muscles quickly, several times in succession. Or practice contracting them very slowly. You can also vary your position, completing Kegel exercises while standing, sitting, or lying down.
While you’re doing Kegel exercises, try not to tighten other muscles, such as your abs, butt, or thighs. Don’t hold your breath either. Instead, keep the rest of your body still and relaxed, while breathing normally.
Kegel exercises are low risk, easy to do anywhere, and cost nothing to try. So what do you have to lose?
Ask your doctor if Kegel exercises may be a good fit for you. Adding several sets to your daily routine might help you gain better urinary control, improve your erectile function, and prevent premature ejaculation. In some cases, your doctor might encourage you to combine Kegel exercises with other treatments, such as medication or bladder training.